Our Patron – Tony Hakim
Tony Hakim is the patron of the Anti Depression Association of Australia (ADAA), which I chair. He has been fantastic, he is one of the reasons it is all possible, particularly on the strategy. We have been planning what to do. It’s a big project. Neither of us have done a not-for-profit venture before, so it’s new to us.
The two of us have built a strong working and personal relationship over decades. I first met Tony Hakim at high school when we were both at Marist Brothers Pagewood. I knew his brother and got to know Tony through him.
We left school and I did not see Tony for years until I bumped into him one day. I was working as a consultant and he had a small business in the Telco industry.
A previous job of mine was working for a Minister for Consumer Affairs, writing the minister’s personal responses to enquiries and letters. That period taught me the skill of reading and interpreting an act of parliament.
When I looked into Tony’s industry, I read the act and realised there was an opportunity. If Tony could aggregate his clients’ billings, then he could resell Telco services that were then only available to Optus and Telstra.
So one day I travelled down to his farm and showed him the act. That got Tony into reselling, which changed his business. He went from 16 staff to 48 in six months, and over 200 staff within the year.. Tony then sold this new business to Digicall.
I left and went of to start a family. He went back to his core business. Then three years later, he came back and asked me to do what we could creatyeb this time around. I wanted the telco business to go national and to go public, and take a higher profile.
We combined a billing platform with a hardware system so customers could save money. Jeff Kennett, Chairman of Beyond Blue, the national Depression initiative became our first chairman and within three years we were indeed National with over 500 staff and contractors. The idea that a person can use their bill credits to help offset other telco expenses, with some similiarities to . how the mobile phone system works. People jump on plans because they are a more convenient way to high-ticket technology. We made it work for landline systems and tens of thousands of people benefitted.
Which brings us to today and the ADAA. Tony is a financial whiz and a good strategist. But to me he is more a confidante. For instance, I said to him that we now know how to fix anxiety and depression but it has large costs attached. He analysed the current business model, identyifying the key “fix” of the service. He then advised to put it on an online platform that might cost a lot to set up- but we only had to pay thois once.. Once it is set up, he said, you can scale it and charge much less, serving and helping so many more people.
So Tony has helped me devise all these new product lines, through the ADAA and affiliated companies, which will launch over the next 18 months. They will help, potentially, thousands of people.
He is quiet and generous to a fault. You can see I am proud to call Tony Hakim a friend.